BY mixing your favourite spirit with a diet soft drink, you’d assume you’re making the healthier choice, right?
But experts warn that alcohol mixed with artificially-sweetened drinks like Diet Coke can actually get you drunk faster than the sugary versions.
At least, it will make you appear more intoxicated on a breathalyser test, according to US researchers.
Scientists from Northern Kentucky University breathalysed 20 men and women after drinking vodka mixed with lemonade or diet lemonade.
They found that the amount of alcohol was the same in both cases but reading were up to 25 per cent higher with the low-calorie mixer.
Cecile Marczinski, a cognitive psychologist who authored the study, said: “Alcohol, consumed with a diet mixer, results in higher (BrAC) Breath Alcohol Concentrations as compared to the same amount of alcohol consumed with a sugar-sweetened mixer.”
It’s thought that sugar slows down the absorption of alcohol from the stomach to the bloodstream – in a similar way to food.
Meanwhile, artificial sweeteners appear to do nothing to dull the effect of alcohol, according to the findings published in a December 2015 issue of the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
Dennis Thombs, a professor at the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth, who published a paper with similar findings, said: “It is not that diet soda accelerates intoxication.
“Rather, the sugar in regular soda slows down the rate of alcohol absorption.”
Previous research by the same team found that just one diet drink mixer, rather than a sugary one, could be enough to take someone over the drink-drive limit.
Their findings showed that participants reported not feeling anymore intoxicated and were just as likely to think they could get behind the wheel.
The researchers said that the lack of awareness could lead people to unwittingly drink-drive.
They also warned that women should be particularly aware because not only are they biologically more likely to get drunk faster, but they are also more likely to order a diet mixer.
Prof Marczinski said: “While all alcohol consumers should be aware of this phenomenon, it appears more likely that women would select alcohol beverages with a diet mixer given that they are more likely to be conscious of calories in their drinks.
“Young women may be particularly vulnerable as they frequently use diet mixers with alcohol and they also restrict food intake when drinking to control calorie consumption and, ultimately, body weight.”